Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Whats A Reviewer to Do?

You've read a number of books by a Christian author. So, when you see a novel they've written, you pick it up. It's well written - deserving 5 stars - but it's problematic.

Through most of the book, the main characters are committing adultery. It's pivotal to the plot. There are a couple of bedroom scenes. While not extreme, you're thinking of tossing the book on the trash heap.

One character comes to his senses after learning the partner lied to him and used him for their own purposes. He has a conversion experience, and his relationship with his family is restored.

While there's a strong redemptive theme, the book is not only edgy but a banana peel is about to send it over the cliff. Where is this writer going?

Here's my question writers and readers: Do you review the book with appropriate warnings or walk away from the whole issue?

It seems these situations are occurring in Christian books with greater frequency. It's disappointing, but there's no doubt they occur in real life. When the author takes a firm stance, shows the consequences of such behavior, and brings repentance into the picture, is skating that edge okay?

Photo Credit:  John Nyberg


Jocelyn said...

As a reviewer of Christian books, so far I have not come across this particular problem. However, if a book I'm reviewing, by a favored Christian author, were to suggest something titillating, I would offer a warning. Having read books by authors I did not review, when there is unsavory content, I usually set the book aside. I've learned once the author has shown their preference for either strong language or indiscreet scenes, the book continues in that vain and it is no longer of interest to me. My mind fills with the scenes and I'd rather fill it with good clean stories rather than run from the pictures it leaves in my mind. "Whatsoever things are lovely..."

Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

An ethical question Susan... my husband has quite a strong opinion on most Christian novels, he says: people are having affairs, there is fighting and strive and jealousy, the only difference is that the main characters are going to church. Does that make it a Christian book?
Well, reading through your post I am wondering....

Unknown said...

I think some Christian authors - many Christian authors - are attempting to break the 'rules' placed on Christian fiction and are venturing into unknown territory with their writing. That being said, I believe injecting real-world themes and content into Christian fiction can greatly benefit not just the story, but also the reader who is trying to relate to said story. We do need to temper how 'edgy' we are being though, as we don't want to come off as needlessly graphic. There is a line there, and some authors are still trying to figure out where it is.

A few of us just started a publishing company that actually specializes in this outside-the-box type of Christian fiction. We follow strict Biblical standards, but we don't follow a lot of the strict guidelines the CBA has set up over the years. If you'd like to check us out, head to We always welcome readers and reviewers.

quietspirit said...

This is a quandry. First, can you see God working through the events in the story? Second, Does the book end with a positive or a negative slant. Third, Do most of the characters begin to lean on God?

In the writer's guidelines of magazines and books that the publishers don't want anything that is preachy. I have often wondered what those publishers consider "preachy."

Because we live in a fallen world, the author MAY have decided to show, via the characters, that seamy side of life, in order to point our there is another side to life.
Some television shows have done this. Sseveral years ago, a friend told of a series on "Christian" television that showed these unseemly practices. Viewers complained. The network said the series showed the nasty side of life as a contrast to what life following Christ was and how following Christ would be better.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Everyone - Thanks so much for weighing in on this question. I've come across several titles lately that made me uneasy about doing a review. You've given me some interesting thoughts. Bottom line - is the behavior treated as acceptable or does the character repent and allow the Lord to transform them?